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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Development needs limit

Few, if any, people would want to block the Rinnier Development Company’s 700-plus-townhome complex on Seahawk Road, as it would help maintain the economic balance and vitality that is necessary to Berlin’s success.
As Mayor Gee Williams observed this week, the town does not want to become so exclusive that only the upper middle class and beyond can live there.
That can happen, as has been demonstrated in other highly desirable towns on the Eastern Shore, as well as in Ocean City, where the cost of housing is one reason – there are others, of course – for its dwindling residential base in recent years.
Obviously, increasing exclusivity leads to increasing expense to a community’s remaining residents.
Still, amending the zoning code to permit the Planning Commission to decide how much is too much, as it pertains to the number of units per building in a housing development, is asking for trouble.
Common sense says that what Rinnier proposes to do is proper for that location, those circumstances and with the current assembly of elected officials and Planning Commission members. But a practical understanding of how things work also says that things and people change and that the shared vision of government and commercial interests today, might not be working quite as well at some point in the future.
That’s why allowing Rinnier to proceed with its current design is the right thing to do, except that it should be done without making future decisions on multi-family dwellings subject mostly to the judgment of individual members of a governing body. That approach works now, but it might not in the years ahead.
While there ought to be some flexibility in how regulations are applied, there also needs to be a limit on how much can be done so future projects and the officials who judge them know how far they can go.
Besides, as this project and the town’s embrace of it illustrate, if something comes along that suits the town’s needs as well as this one promises to do, the rules can always be changed.